I've gotta admit, when I heard jazz playing over the menu screen, I got quite excited about this. Perhaps it could be the weird and wonderful kitsch I crave. Unfortunately, the generic d'n'b in the game itself put paid to that theory, but Bullet Candy's still pretty good. As their arena-based shmup clocks in at four times the price of Geo Wars, developer Charlie's Games probably aren't going to see many sales over the next couple of months, which is a bit of a shame. Though Geo is a clear inspiration, it doesn't have the grip on Bullet Candy that it did on the late, unashamed clone Grid Wars. While the relentless pace, primitive sprites and points-won power-ups will take you to a similar place, the difference that collecting as well as killing things makes is vast. Small ships need rescuing even as you fend off attacking wotsits - while Geo Wars asks you to stay out the way of everything, here you've got to filter what's bad and what's good, making it a more intense prospect from the very start. The messier graphics muck this up a bit, too much going on at once and lacking the memorable individualism of Geo's foes. Of course, this does make Bullet Candy more challenging for anyone bored of Geo's ever-escalating single note, but simpler, clearer graphics would do it the world of good. As would a lower price.
Gumboy Crazy Adventures
Almost a year old now, but don't let that stop you. Gumboy's a sort of impressionist take on Kirby, a thoughtful puzzle-platformer stripped down to the very barest essence of movement and collection. There's no combat of any sort - simply use of the environment to get the rolling, floating or flying (altered by occasional pick-ups) Gumboy to a level exit. While it's stripped down enough to just about qualify as casual, it does require a dawning understanding of momentum and reflex to progress far through its slightly sinister world.
Sporting a beautiful hand-painted look, and an endearingly weird lead character who communicates only in excited squeaks and gurgles like some untroubled multi-amputee baby, it's like the arthouse brother of Wik and the Fable of Souls. It may be lacking the immediacy and universal appeal of Geometry Wars or Peggle, but it approaches the current indie fad of game physics with a huge amount of charm and depth.
It's a little odd that a game about delivering pizza would seem to have the very concept of pizza delivery back-to-front. The challenge here is, apparently, to accept (rather than deliver) orders as quickly as possible by visiting customers' houses. This seems a colossal waste of time and manpower as opposed to them coming to you or phoning. But hey, let's go with this as Reverse Pizza Bizarro World, ignore the broken logic and talk about the game.
Like so many casual games, it's all about clicking. Man asks for mushroom pizza, you click on his house and then one of your pizza kitchens. Each kitchen can only make one type of pizza - presumably having pepperoni and mushroom in the same room creates some sort of matter-antimatter explosion. So click here, then there, then here again to collect your tip as quickly as you can. There's various bonuses to strive for - a combo of pepperoni-only orders, for instance, or reporting a thief to the police station rather than delivering a pizza to him you won't get paid for.
Occasionally, a Cooking Mama-like mini-game-within-a-mini-game crops up, asking you to place pizza toppings in an exact layout within a time-limit. Which seems an awful lot more considerate than the sort of sweetcorn all at one end, pineapple stuck to the top of the box pizzas I'm more accustomed to receiving, so perhaps I should emigrate to Reverse Pizza Bizarro World.
Anyway! It's the sort of simple, charming thing you can suffer that dread where-did-those-three-hours-go panic from several times over, but the repetition soon grates. It lacks the cleverness and refinement of the others games here - like that fifth pizza of the week, it's unquestionably tasty, but you're horribly aware you're not getting your five-a-day from it.